Broadly larp used be an acronym that stood for ‘Live Action Role Playing’. Larp has since become a word all it’s own, like scuba or laser. In general use the word can mean live theater, or Nordic Larp, or Combat Larp. It could mean a hit point system or a hit location system. It can mean game mechanics and story telling, hitting things with foam covered weapons or deeply emotional narrative explorations of important topics. It’s a generic term for a larger subset of activities. So how do you know what you like? Jeepform, free form, larp, lrp? What is your style?

Larp, to me, means that conflict is resolved through actions, generally with some form of safety device, in violent conflict resolution situations. That A is an important part of the definition and means resolving combat through action. Mind’s Eye Theater seems more like LRP, Live Role Play, or live theater, because of the artificiality used to abstract the resolution of conflict. MET has a brilliant mechanic in its rock paper scissors resolution and is an interesting and elegant system. But conflict is not really being resolved through direct action. It’s being resolved through a game mechanic.

Some game like experiences which are not larp at all. They may have originated from acting out a table top game, rather than participating in a martial art. These types of games are called jeepform, and tend to be associated with Nordic Larp. Lizzie Stark has a great explanation. Better to let her explain, because I’ve never experienced a jeepform game before.

Theater Style, or Freeform larp, generally is what one would experience at a convention. The games are written, and created to run for a limited amount of time. Other forms of larp may last years, or decades, whereas a Convention Larp generally lasts a weekend.

From an outsiders perspective these differences are ultimately minor and are more academic rather than useful. But you should be able to identify the kinds of games you enjoy, and make sure you’re showing up to the ones you like. Don’t let that trip you up though. If its a game with role playing and takes place away from a table, it’s a larp. Find the form you like, and have a good game!

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